Quick Guide to Safely Preparing Gluten Free Food

By Jenny Stegen | August 12, 2020

Woman at stove in kitchen cooking dinner

Do you have celiac disease? Are you highly gluten intolerant? Are you responsible for preparing food for a guest or a loved one with celiac disease? You have come to the right place. The following post summarizes steps to take to prevent cross-contamination. After listing the steps, I have attached graphics that will simplify the process and serve as visual reminders you can post in your kitchen. Those of you who are visual learners will LOVE these graphics! Preparing food for a celiac family member on a regular basis requires extra instruction and education. If this is the case, you will want to also read the information covered in cross-contamination 101.

Cross-contamination is defined as the unintentional process by which gluten is transferred from one substance to another. It is essential to learn the sources of cross-contamination as they often are not obvious. You can spend a lot of time planning and preparing gluten free food with very good intentions, but all of your efforts go to waste if your work is contaminated. Ask anyone with celiac disease how fun it is to get glutened. (Getting glutened is defined as unintentionally getting exposed to gluten which can lead to stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, exhaustion - no fun at all!) You do not want to gluten your guest (unless you really don't like them!).

Your guest sincerely appreciates the effort and consideration you devote to providing them safe food. Trust me, as a mom of four kids with celiac disease - I am forever grateful to their friends’ parents who take it upon themselves to safely cook or bake for my child. My kids have some of the greatest friends and that is because they have AWESOME parents who truly care about the well being of my children. Another Godsend has been Grandma. She is devoted to preventing cross-contamination when she prepares food for my kids. I never have to worry when they eat Grandma’s cooking! Thank you, Grandma!

My family getting ready to eat dinner at Grandma's house

Getting ready to eat dinner at Grandma's house

Follow these 12 recommendations to prevent cross-contamination as you prepare your gluten free food:

  1. Prepare gluten free food in a separate space in the kitchen so there is some distance from foods containing gluten.
  2. Use separate, clean bowls and utensils to prepare gluten free foods. It is important to remember to use clean utensils to prepare, cut, and serve the gluten free food. Shared utensils are a common source of gluten contamination. (For example, wash the pizza cutter before cutting the gluten free pizza).
  3. Keep your hands and surfaces clean. Wash hands frequently when simultaneously preparing gluten free foods and foods containing gluten. Also, keep surfaces clean such as countertops and cutting boards.
  4. If you cook something in the oven, please cover your pan with parchment paper or foil (this reduces exposure to gluten found in residue that has collected on the pan's surface over time). Remember to keep gluten free food separate from food containing gluten. It is OK to be in the oven at the same time, just avoid sharing the same pan.
  5. If you cook something on the stovetop, please first clean the pots and pans really well with warm, soapy water. This helps to remove traces of gluten that have been left behind from previous use.
  6. If you grill something, please cover the grill grates with foil. Grill grates are a common source of gluten contamination.
  7. Your butter dish, peanut butter, and jam likely contain gluten from toast crumbs. It is best to avoid using these products unless you want to open a fresh stick of butter or a fresh jar of peanut butter for your gluten free guest.
  8. Please do not place your guest’s gluten free bread in your toaster. It will quickly become contaminated. Your guest will be happy with untoasted bread.
  9. Some spices and seasonings such as taco seasoning and chili seasoning contain gluten. Salad dressings and soy sauce may also contain gluten. Gluten free versions of these products are available (see our favorite products page).
  10. Always read labels. Products labeled gluten-free are generally safe. Products with the following ingredients are not safe: wheat, barley, rye, and malt. For a quick guide to reading labels refer to my post on this topic.
  11. Fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy items, and fresh unseasoned meats are generally safe. Processed meats such as hot dogs, sausages, and lunch meats should be labeled gluten free.
  12. Ordering out or eating out is often not safe except in special circumstances where restaurants are very familiar with gluten free food practices. Please talk with your guest before making plans to eat or order out.

Feeling overwhelmed after reading these steps? Don't worry! I simplified all of this down into two, printable, easy to read graphics entitled CRUMBS and LAWS. These visual reminders will greatly help you as you carefully prepare your gluten free cuisine! I suggest you print them off to be posted in the kitchen for anyone who is learning to cook and serve gluten free food. You can also refer people to my website to discover more helpful gluten free tips and tools. Thank you for visiting and sharing!

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